Winemaker Xavier Planty arrived at Chateau Guiraud in 1982. Thirteen years later, he began transforming Chateau Guiraud’s viticulture from Sauternes’ accepted practices to organic methods, which led Chateau Guiraud to become the only Premier Cru Classe chateau certified organic by the French Ministry of Agriculture.
In 2006, Chateau Guiraud was purchased by a partnership of Planty, Olivier Bernard, the legendary owner of Bordeaux’s outstanding Domaine de Chevalier, Stephan Von Neipperg, owner of St. Emilion’s first-rate Chateau Canon-La Gaffeliere, and automobile producer Robert Peugeot.
The vineyards at Chateau Guiraud are planted with 35 percent sauvignon blanc and 65 percent Semillon vines. It is an unusually high percentage of sauvignon blanc for Sauternes, but it brings a vibrancy to both its sweet wine and the dry 2009 Le G de Chateau Guiraud.
Planty’s blend for the dry white wine is the reverse of the vineyard: 80 percent sauvignon blanc and 20 percent Semillon. He adds complexity by aging the wine in barrels used the previous year for Chateau Guiraud’s renowned sweet wine.
This winemaking technique yields a sage-colored 2009 Le G de Chateau Guiraud with a pronounced lemon-thyme and gooseberry aroma. It coats the palate with rich fruit flavors supported by sauvignon blanc’s natural crisp acidity. Bordeaux white wines are often one-dimensional, but not this 2009 Le G de Chateau Guiraud. It has a layer of tropical fruit flavor that I suspect comes from aging the wine in the barrels that the previous year contained Chateau Guiraud’s Premier Cru Classe sweet wine.
Combining the wine making skills of Planty with Bernard, whose Domaine de Chevalier dry white wine is one of the great wines of France, can only take Chateau Guiraud to a higher level. The Guiraud family would approve.
I was delighted with my glass of the 2009 Le G de Chateau Guiraud and a splendid appetizer of lobster, Maine shrimp and asparagus in a pastry shell at the Saddle River Inn. It will also be a delicious partner to smoke trout, vegetable tempura, sautéed scallops, and sautéed chicken with fresh pineapple.
The 2009 Le G de Chateau Guiraud retails for approximately $18.